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Shark bite on Shear Water, Bahamas


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#41 eskasi

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 10:08 AM

Agreed....well put MikeO.....

Having said that, I am a little nervous about my May trip which I plan to do on the Nekton to the Bahamas.....I particularly want to do the shark dives. However the danger was never "real" to me till I read about such incidents ..... It's just like going through the posts on diver passings ....sobering.

I think a healthy respect for these magnificent creatures is very important. However, I WILL be staring down into the water till I am ready to get out and next up the ladder! Lol....

#42 loftus

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 11:15 AM

Agreed....well put MikeO.....

Having said that, I am a little nervous about my May trip which I plan to do on the Nekton to the Bahamas.....I particularly want to do the shark dives. However the danger was never "real" to me till I read about such incidents ..... It's just like going through the posts on diver passings ....sobering.

I think a healthy respect for these magnificent creatures is very important. However, I WILL be staring down into the water till I am ready to get out and next up the ladder! Lol....

I think a very important point that Mike made is the concept of inevitability; with any activity that involves risk, an accident is almost inevitable, sooner or later. I would probably put the level of risk of this activity as probably similar to skydiving, an activity enjoyed by thousands, but with the inevitable accident from time to time. Every individual has to answer for themselves whether they want to pursue any activity that involves risk when no one is making them do it, and most people will think us crazy for doing it just as they would skydiving or mountain climbing.
I personally plan to continue diving with Jim though probably with even more respect for these awesome animals.
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#43 bmyates

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 01:49 PM

I think a very important point that Mike made is the concept of inevitability; with any activity that involves risk, an accident is almost inevitable, sooner or later. I would probably put the level of risk of this activity as probably similar to skydiving, an activity enjoyed by thousands, but with the inevitable accident from time to time. Every individual has to answer for themselves whether they want to pursue any activity that involves risk when no one is making them do it, and most people will think us crazy for doing it just as they would skydiving or mountain climbing.
I personally plan to continue diving with Jim though probably with even more respect for these awesome animals.


I agree on all counts. Diving with sharks doesn't "worry" me; I just have great respect for them (and carry a big camera to try to keep between me and them). I think it depends greatly on the circumstances...are you by yourself or in a group, near bait or not...and specific species. I will say that the times I've been in the water with bull sharks, they make me nervous (they seem slightly emotionally imbalanced - fidgety, nervous, etc.), whereas others (tigers) almost never have caused me any anxiety...mostly because of Jim's briefings and protocols.

I won't speculate as to what Jim will/won't be allowed to do in the future on Shear Water, but my guess is that the shark diving being offered/done for the rest of this year (by ALL boats in the Bahamas) will be done unusually conservatively. So I certainly wouldn't be at ALL nervous about going on a trip you already have booked.

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#44 TomR1

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 05:15 PM

I don NOT support shark diving.

Simply, I vote with my pocketbook and won't go on any dive trip where sharks are fed or teased. I consider this very sad occurance to be inevitable. That it happen where the operator's safety record is above reproach simply highlight the fact that this is a dangerous activity.

However, I don't support anybody denying your right to do this stupid thing.

Tom

#45 Drew

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 06:08 PM

FYI, the audience for this forum has been expanded due to coverage from WPTV.

http://www.wptv.com/...2e-366fc4273a7e

Thank you all for keeping this thread factual and sane.

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#46 zippsy

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 06:12 PM

....I would probably put the level of risk of this activity as probably similar to skydiving, an activity enjoyed by thousands, but with the inevitable accident from time to time. Every individual has to answer for themselves whether they want to pursue any activity that involves risk when no one is making them do it, and most people will think us crazy for doing it just as they would skydiving or mountain climbing.
I personally plan to continue diving with Jim though probably with even more respect for these awesome animals.

.....
However, I don't support anybody denying your right to do this stupid thing.

I don't usually mind anyone doing whatever they durn well please but I do draw the line when someone does something that reasonably can effect me. If someone wants to take the risk to sky dive, if something goes wrong, about the only way that I could be effected is if that person landed on my head. I'm not worried about that. If someone is baiting, feeding, chumming for, etc. sharks, there are several ways I am effected. That's why I don't like anyone doing it. I don't want a wild and potentially dangerous animal being taught that I may have some food for it with me. I don't want the media telling stories like this one and getting anyone less sympathetic to sharks. I don't want the shark-finners to have another reasons to say they are doing the world a favor.

I love sharks too but I want to safely see and photograph them for the next 50 years. The fact that some people are getting lovely close up shots of lots of them only bothers me because some of them are making it harder for me to do what I want.

#47 kriptap

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 06:33 PM

I just saw the guy died, very sad indeed.

http://www.cnn.com/2...tion=cnn_latest

Edited by kriptap, 26 February 2008 - 06:34 PM.


#48 gonetobaja

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 06:59 PM

Ive just heard about the accident. There is a way to dive with sharks out of a cage without getting hurt. Its called a SHARK SUIT. http://www.neptunic.com

I wear one to dive with the Humbolt squid in mexico and so do all of my customers. For years the shark dive industry has been living under the impression that they are good not lucky and that there is no need for protection of their customers. I dont know of a single shark dive operation that gives armor to its customers even though its readily available. Guides and people who feed them directly get armor but not the customer 15 feet away. ;)

If you dive with sharks with no armor, you are right, its like skydiving, only with no reserve chute. Whats the back up plan for "dont worry the shark wont bite you." It should be some type of secondary protection for the diver in the situation. I dive with sharks, and Humboldt squid and I have had people give me a hard time because I wear my armor on every dive that I know that there will be a shark or Humboldt around. These animals have evolved over millions of years and it is disrespecfull to expect them to act any way other than the way they are built for. If you are going to dive with dangerous animals you need to protect yourself for the POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE OF THE ENCOUNTER out of respect for the abilities of the apex predator you are going to try and take a picture of.

If the dive operation does not offer shark armor you can still buy your own, it costs about half of a good camera and should be included in the gear for any extreme underwater person.


Or you can jump without the reserve chute...... :)

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#49 echeng

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 07:52 PM

Neal Watson, the president of the Bahamas Diving Association and owner of Neal Watson's Undersea Adventures, has been blasting Jim all over the news. All news outlets list him as president of BDA and ignore that fact that he owns a competing shark diving organization. Watson's shark dives are also cageless and baited, but they are different because he actively feeds sharks while divers are in the water (feeding is different than baiting) and claims that he doesn't do cageless shark dives with the "œ10 dangerous species" of sharks. But then, Watson includes lemon sharks in that list, which immediately gives it no credibility. Also, how do you keep a tiger shark away? Is there some sort of magic underwater fence he uses?

As someone who represents the BDA, I don't see how Watson can attack Jim without also attacking his own operation or operations like the Dolphin Dream and Gulf Stream Eagle, who both do the exact same dives. It gets even stranger: the Dolphin Dream is a member of the Bahamas Diving Association!. Dolphin Dream claims that they do "caged or cageless dives where [they] chum and shark feed these large top predators," referring to their operation with tiger sharks and great hammerhead sharks. No one I know who has been on the Dolphin Dream has ever been in a cage. So how can the BDA be attacking cageless dives with big sharks, when they do it themselves?

You can see how Watson's hypocrisy might be pissing some of us off. After this is all over, you can bet that I'll be vocal about boycotting anything Watson touches.

In the meantime, all we can do is support Markus Groh and his family, Jim Abernethy, and all shark diving operations in the Bahamas.
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#50 loftus

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 04:01 AM

On at least two occasions that I have dived at Tiger Beach, Dolphin Dream was a few hundred yards away, so they obviously go to the same area. If he wants to sling mud, I think it will be quite easy to solicit information about his operation and the unsupervised manner in which they conduct open water Tiger Shark dive experiences.
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#51 Christian K

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 05:11 AM

First, I'm very sorry to hear. My condolances to family of the deceased.

And allthough I have not been on Jim Abernethys boat yet, hope to be in the near future, I can sympathise with his situation.

Voices will rise from all kind of directions, wanting to ban shark diving. For different reasons.


THE SAFETY ARGUMENT

I think it's very important to agree that there is a calculated risk entering the water with bait and big sharks, just as there are risks with a lot of activities. Statistics however show that the calculated risk of being bitten by a shark while shark diving, is very, very slim. If we are to ban this activity in the name of safety, then we have to prohibit a lot of other activities as well. Diving on scuba, perhaps.


THE ALTERING THEIR BEHAVIOUR ARGUMENT

Sometimes some, generally the fishing lobby, claim that baiting will alter/interfer with sharks behaviour, making them associate humans with food. It has it's base in the Pavlov experiment, where Pavlov made dogs associate a bell with food. It might be possible with sharks as well, considered that we regularly feed the same individuals over a period of time. But in baiting/attracting, there are no feeding going on, hence no reward! It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding.


THE CONSERVATIONIST ARGUMENT

Some think that we should not do this, for the sake/respect of the sharks, and that they are much more beatiful when you see them by chance. Well, I think most of us can agree with this, on a philosophical level. But we live in the real world, and sharks are in deep shit. Anything that can help sharks is good inmo, including Disney-land-like shows. Shark diving is a significant factor in increasing interest and gaining support for sharks among the broad public, they have quite an upphill. Perhaps we should send a reporter from the leading tabloid/s in every country on a shark dive?


Just some thoughts

Christian

Edited by Christian K, 27 February 2008 - 05:13 AM.


#52 MikeO

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 05:13 AM

Posted it on the front page, and I'll repost here -- CNN's "This American Morning" show is about to run a feature on "why divers would jump in the water with dangerous sharks". Just in case anyone has a chance to check it out or find it afterward online. I have to run to a conference session an will most likely miss it . . .

EDIT: Here is a link to the video:

http://www.cnn.com/v...ewart.shark.cnn

Edited by MikeO, 27 February 2008 - 09:21 AM.

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#53 craig

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 07:29 AM

"It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding."

What? That "thought transition" doesn't need to occur, it's instinctive. That smell tells sharks there's food to be had. That's why they come.
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#54 Christian K

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 01:17 PM

"It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding."

What? That "thought transition" doesn't need to occur, it's instinctive. That smell tells sharks there's food to be had. That's why they come.


Yes, it's instinct. But if there's no food to be had, no 'reward', I don't see how their behaviour would be altered and that they would start to associate humans with food. For that they would need to draw some conclusions. Sharks are probably smarter than they have been credited for in the past, but I don't think baiting makes them associate people with food. Just my opinion.

cheers

#55 craig

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 01:44 PM

"I don't see how their behaviour would be altered and that they would start to associate humans with food."

That's a far different statement that the one you made previously. Here's that quote again:

"It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding."

The natural thing is for sharks to associate the blood in the water with food. Whether they associate humans with the blood in the water I don't know, but I'm not going to assume it as you have just done. Furthermore, you have assumed that sharks learn that the smell in the water is NOT associated with food due to lack of "reward" yet exactly the opposite will get reinforced when humans are not around. For sharks to do what you assume they've already done means that they associate that smell plus the presence of humans to mean no food due to lack of reward. To me, that assumes that sharks are far more capable than you claim "very unlikely" in your original point. I'm not even convinced that sharks think of humans as anything other than odd looking predators like them. If sharks learn to know that no food is around then they will stop coming around themselves. That doesn't happen.
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#56 TomR1

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 01:54 PM

About 20 years ago I agitated for the use of Bear Canisters while backpacking in the California Sierra. At that time, most people were either hanging the food (which was ineffectual) or sleeping with the food in their tents. I mounted quite a stir about this practice, even to the extent of refusing to go to the thruhiker gathering that I founded (ADZPCTKO) because I felt that eventually the bears would associate a human in a tent with food and start crashing the tent to get it.

Guess what. Today the incidents of Bears crashing tents for the food has increased dramatically. Guess what else. The arguments posted here are virtually identical to the arguments then.

When will the sharks learn? I said then as others are saying now...."It's not if, it's when"

Fortunately, I can dive where nobody feeds the sharks.

#57 randapex

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 02:13 PM

Its really hard to come up with anything fresh on this subject. Its frustrating to see what I consider a random act generate so much controversy.
I'm tired of being "protected" by big brother. Jimmy provides a true life changing experience. And its the huge risk associated with it that makes it so cool. My prayers go out to Mr. Groh's family.

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#58 herbko

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 03:08 PM

"I don't see how their behaviour would be altered and that they would start to associate humans with food."

That's a far different statement that the one you made previously. Here's that quote again:

"It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding."


I don't think you're giving sharks enough credit. The crew of the Shearwater have noticed that the reef sharks will show up whether they chum or not. They, the crew, think that the sharks have been trained to associate the sound of the Shearwater's motor with food. On my trip we saw many sharks on the one dive where we did not chum. Of course I don't have a baseline for the number that usually show up at that reef. Someone should go and dive there off a sail boat and see if there are differences.
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#59 Christian K

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 03:21 PM

"I don't see how their behaviour would be altered and that they would start to associate humans with food."

That's a far different statement that the one you made previously. Here's that quote again:

"It is very unlikely that sharks are able to make that quite advanced (for animals) thought transition of an attractive smell to actually feeding."

The natural thing is for sharks to associate the blood in the water with food. Whether they associate humans with the blood in the water I don't know, but I'm not going to assume it as you have just done. Furthermore, you have assumed that sharks learn that the smell in the water is NOT associated with food due to lack of "reward" yet exactly the opposite will get reinforced when humans are not around. For sharks to do what you assume they've already done means that they associate that smell plus the presence of humans to mean no food due to lack of reward. To me, that assumes that sharks are far more capable than you claim "very unlikely" in your original point. I'm not even convinced that sharks think of humans as anything other than odd looking predators like them. If sharks learn to know that no food is around then they will stop coming around themselves. That doesn't happen.


By judging your response, I suspect that you misinterpreted my post big time. It may very well have been badly written. English is not my native language, but I do try my best.

First, I do not assume that sharks will associate humans with the smell/blood in the water as you claim. On the contrary, my whole point was to debate the opinion that baiting alters sharks behaviour and makes them associate humans with food. I don't think it does and I didn't write that.

Nor have I assumed that sharks learn that the smell is not (?) associated with food due to the lack of reward (where did you read that in!?). THAT would really take some thinking. I don't think they learn anything. Just instinct, as you stated yourself. What I tried to say was that there might be a point in differentiating baiting from feeding in the debate, due to arguments often raised against baiting. If there's no reward, there isn't even a theoretical chance for the shark to "learn" that humans give them food, even if they are capable of it or not. I don't know if they are and I do not make that assumption.

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#60 Lupo

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 04:06 PM

We went on Jim Abernethy's Shearwater boat Jan. 2-9 2008 and loved it.
Jim and his crew Gray, Don, and Wade made us feel very comfortable, safe and full ( of food).
Jim gave a great photo workshop and saved me many headaches with his camera setting pointers.
The boat was better set up than we thought and between the other guests and the crew, this trip was unforgettable. And we have done the great whites twice and Fiji bull sharks once, all with Lawrence Groth at www.seesharks.com
After this very unfortunate accident with Markus Groh, our hearts sank thinking about what our friends on the boat went through and how they must feel. I have worked on boats and have had a diver die in my arms.We don't decide the end. It is emotionally tough. Of course we feel terrible for Markus, his family and his friends that were also on the boat. We have prayed for everyone involved. This accident has rocked the shark divers world. One in part due to the lies and grand standing by the media and shark diving competitors.
We hope that Markus' family and friends have the support they need during their difficult time. If he came all that way with his friends, I'm sure he was a good diver and I know he was in good hands with the Shearwater crew.

We do what we do because we love animals and nature. We work to promote saving and better understanding these animals. We know the risks.
If a miner dies in a mine collapse we don't criticize them and tell them they were wrong to go/work in the mine.
I don't see/hear anybody criticizing spear fishers , shark fishers, snorkelers or surfers when they get bit. Shark divers are the people who try to save sharks. This bad press,misinformation and grand standing regarding this unfortunate accident undermines the attempts to save these necessary creatures.

My best buddy is my wife Mary, who at 115 pounds makes me nervous when we are around some giants whether sharks, whales or strong currents, but she does what she loves, does it safely and lets God do what he does.

Anyways,
The same day we read about the accident we rebooked with Jim for next Jan. on the Shearwater. We are also waiting for our friends to fill up the rest of the boat. THAT, should tell you everything about how we feel about Jim,Gray, Don, Wade and the rest of the crew on at Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures.

Robert Lupo Dion and Mary O'Malley